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Brian Stann explains why he left MMA, admits he ‘absolutely’ misses being an analyst, but ‘I love what I’m doing now’

Brian Stann on The MMA Hour

Brian Stann has no current plans to come back to MMA, but there have been offers.

Stann retired from active competition in 2013 and went immediately into the UFC’s commentary booth, garnering near-universal praise for his work calling fights. Stann spent four years in the role, also commentating on ACC football games for Fox Sports Net, before he left the sports world for a career in business. While he’s been out of the game for almost five years, Stann sometimes feels the siren call of MMA.

“Of course I miss it,” Stann told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “It’s so funny, my fiancée Michelle will just start dying laughing if we’re in a room full of friends and they ask me a question, I get to go back into being the analyst, she starts laughing. She knows I love it. There’s never gonna be a more fun job that exists. Talk about low stress. You’re preparing and the hard work to get ready for the big show is watching fights. There’s a lot harder ways to make a living.

“The only thing about it I remember, though, is I remember feeling a little unfulfilled. I remember watching the executives who were growing this company, this brand, preparing a company for sale, and when you’re running a company, you’re creating jobs, there’s really challenging strategies for your capital structure, how you’re gonna finance investment, how you’re going to disrupt an industry, or stay on the cutting edge of innovation to do so, and being an analyst, you’re kind of having to do all of that for your personal brand. You’re thinking around, ‘OK, what kind of content do I need to generate for my own social media to move my brand forward? Should I start a YouTube channel?’ It just wasn’t me...

“So while I absolutely miss being an analyst, and it’s probably the most fun job I’ll ever have, and the least amount of stress, I love what I’m doing now. But every time I watch fights, I put that hat back on and the people sitting in the same room with me probably get sick of listening to me talk.”

Stann is currently the CEO of Hunt Military Communities, a privatized military housing company that services over 120,000 military residents and families; he took the position at the end of 2021. Prior to that, he was the COO of FirstKeyHomes, a real estate investment trust. But apparently, not too long ago, Stann was approached by a prominent MMA organization, looking to entice him back to the sport.

“I was, by one of the larger players,” Stann said. “They approached me and I took a really hard look at it. It was difficult timing. There was a lot of transition taking place in my personal life, and I had two options on the table: I could go work for one of the largest private equity firms in the world in a totally new industry while I was completing my executive MBA, or I could stay in an industry that I know and go into something that’s more at a start-up mode, that’s gonna be financed by entrepreneurs with a little bit more risk involved. So I chose what I feel was the safer path, having a large family to provide for. And there’s times I look back on that and wonder if I made the right choice, because running a business in an industry that I love and spent so many years in would be a lot of fun. But ultimately, it led me to where I am now, and I love my current company.”

Stann notably signed on with the PFL in 2018 as head of its Fighter and Competition/Rules Committee, and while he wouldn’t confirm what company made him the offer, the one-time WEC light heavyweight champion did did note that “you’re probably guessing correctly.” Ultimately, though, the role just wasn’t for him.

“It was to be an executive,” he said. “It was to be a No. 2 guy, to run all operations and do matchmaking and such. I looked into it, and phenomenal opportunity, but it’s just one of those things where you look into something and you choose something else.”